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First sail Wardleys to Piel Island April 2018

Wardleys to Piel Island April 2018,

The first cross bay sail of 2018 took place just after the last Committee meeting. Simons B & E and Joanna set sail in ‘Raindance’ and ‘Jamila’. Just to remind you where Piel is :), I’ve inserted  a rough chart showing the route. The course to steer as shown is set for a spring tide weekend thus we probably steered somewhere between the two headings shown.  All was a little hurried! Simon E’s plan, as it was the night before, had been limited to doing some post launch jobs on ‘Jamila’. There was a little list of things to do. The mooring chain needed attention, the VHF aerial needed bending back following the launching mishap with the crane, and the sails hadn’t been properly readied for the new season. Simon B and Jo, on the other hand had already done a shakedown sail having come down from MaryPort just the week before. Now single handed sailing out at sea is always a daunting prospect particularly when the skies are grey and the wind is whistling through the sails and rigging. Finding the courage to drop the mooring and to allow the boat to drift way with the ebbing tide requires thorough preparation, check lists with lots of ticks, so that every big and minor detail is just so!  Still I wasn’t to be alone, I had the experienced Skipper Simon B and Joanna (Jo has recently become a  ‘RYA Day Skipper’ ticket holder.). Yes, I would be tagging along. I could do some of the jobs like bending on the genoa, putting in the slab reefs whilst under-way and fixing aerials.  The ‘Simrad’ tiller pilot would definitely help out.
As you can see in the image there was preciously little wind and the visibility was down to only a couple of miles. A jenoa is large head-sail and bending it on to a roller-reef spar isn’t normally a problem with two pairs of hands, however today it proved very difficult with only one. The bolt rope in the luff kept jamming.  I  had to winch a little, run forward to align, run back, winch a little more,  then run forward to re-align and so on.  Tiring work, but slowly the sail worked itself up the mast.  And, it must be added, all the time having to keep a lookout to avoid an untimely collision with the shore. Then all movement of the jenoa stopped dead! I tried to winched harder, and then harder still,  then  Bang!  Something broke. Then I saw it. The cable from my chart-plotter was caught around the winch. Now chart-plotters are great, anyone can navigate to perfection. Well, I exaggerate a bit, but you always know where you are , you can see where you need to go, and you can avoid collisions with rocks and other obstacles.  As soon as the sail was up, I dropped down into the cabin to root out my Garmin GPS from its locker.  Damn, the batteries were dead! Where are the spares? Couldn’t find them!  At this point I was following ‘Raindance’ out to sea, heading for the Fairway buoy, and you guessed it, the visibility was down to just a couple of miles. After about twenty minutes I could just and so see the Heysham Nuclear power station’s vast ‘white clad’ bulk but not much else! Right, time to do some proper navigation. I’ve got my Coastal Skipper’s ticket, so time to cash in the investment!  With an old dodgy looking hand held compass I took the two available bearings. Plotted my current position. Counted the minutes until the Fairway buoy started to fade then plotted a second position,  and finally calculated a true bearing to take me over the banks into the barrow channel. Poor Simon B and Joanna could not work out what on earth I was doing, … thought I’d gone a bit daft! We travelled together for a while, but suddenly I looked over and noticed ‘Raindance’ was nearly a mile to starboard. Soon I found out why. Out of the gloom on the starboard bow a dark blot started to materialise. It was Piel Castle, which should have materialised much further to the port had my ‘old fashion style’ estimations and calculations been better! I was much too far down tide, and alas I would have to start the engine and work it hard, using up precious diesel oil, to get to safety.
Simon B and Joanna arrived first in ‘Raindance’. There was one other boat in the harbour, but now there were three. It was several years ago in April when the crew of ‘Alcudia’, a lovely red Cobra 750, moored up for the night at Piel. It was just after the crane-in. The skipper picked a robust looking buoy and pulled the mooring line from the buoy safely up onto ‘Alcudia’s big bow cleat. The following morning after what must have been a blissful sleep ‘Alcudia’s crew, who happened to be the same Simon B and Jo, were woken from their dreams by the sound of plates and cutlery crashing into cabin sole.  In the night the boat had parted company from the  buoy and had gently drifted with the tide up beyond Roe Island and had settled at a precarious angle up a little mud creek. In 2018, however,  there was to be no mistake. The buoy’s mooring lines looked a bit old and muddy with colonies of marine life growing on the end adjoining the buoy obscuring inspection! Instead, a nice new pristine length of rope was pulled from ‘Raindance’s locker and made fast, such that there would be no mistake this time around. Simon E on ‘Jamila’  grabbed a buoy nearby. Having had only happy times moored off Piel Island, he was only too happy to trust the equally muddy looking strops in order to get on with packing away the sails and to eventually paddle the short distance over to  ‘Raindance’ for a planned barbecue on board ship. The above photograph was taken en-route in the Avon dinghy. The Ship Inn was closed that night.

Not a lot going on this clip, or was there? As it happened, a thunder storm passed by just beyond Piel Castle. We saw quite a number of lightning strikes. Some were the classic bolts you see in the horror movies, and some were like the one caught on this clip at the 8 second mark. All were followed by deafening thunder claps that had the three Wardley’s sailors laughing unconvincingly at each other. Our sudden bout of gallows humour eventually died away as the storm moved on further up the Cumbrian coast. Still, fair-do’s to our innate sense of self preservation, we did have the tallest lighting conductor in the harbour right over our heads!

Simon E was not as well organised as the crew of ‘Raindance’ in terms of ships victuals and needed the help of the Piel Ferry to get back to ‘Jamila’ after breakfasting ashore.  Now, the barbecue aboard ‘Raindance’ the night before this photograph was a resounding success. Joanna had done an ace job ‘literally’ running around the finest charcuterie shops and boutique butchers that Fleetwood town had to offer. The food was excellent and the finest wines were served ‘grace au’ skipper de ‘Jamila’. And not forgetting Simon B’s story telling that  had us riveted with  his daring-do on tall ships in various far flung places. The morning was grey and overcast. Simon E paddled the short distance to the Ship Inn. Landlady ‘Shelia’ was behind the bar, and three lads who appeared to be in there late teens were busily warming themselves by the fire. The trio had camped the night on the island but the plan went awry when they discovered the pub was shut, and so no beer to drink,  and, as well as tents, you need sleeping bags to go camping! Sheila and Nicola (ex army medic) were going their best to cheer them up with anecdotes of how much colder it was in Norway and that only the hardest of soldiery could put up with it. A big breakfast was ordered. Eventually King Steven walked in with a large plate of eggs, bacon, sausages and all the trimmings. After placing down the plate he plonked himself down on a nearby seat and  we both exchanged news and views about what had happened on the ‘Furness peninsula Islands’ and ‘Wardleys Marine YC’  during half year just gone. Eventually it was time to say farewell. On the way down to the Avon round-tail dinghy, the Piel Ferry was alighting two day trippers . We passed on the narrow jetty exchanging friendly nods. The Skipper and crew of the ferry stood waiting for me. I pointed at my dinghy but they smiled knowingly whilst looking down at the Avon, and opened a conversation informing me that the tide would be flooding rapidly by now and that I just might want a tow. I gratefully accepted. They refused any donations for their services and posed for the above photo before heading back to Roe Island. The radio then crackled into life. ‘Raindance’ to ‘Jamila’ over! A brief discussion ensued. Simon B recommended a single reef in the mainsail would suit the force 4 gusting 5 that was by now blowing, and very soon we both had most of our white canvas high aloft, bellowing in the wind, for the sail back home.
‘Jamila’ was the first to cast off. The ferrymen were quite right. The tide had turned and was to prove a little too much for canvas alone. ‘Jamila’s Volvo-Penta was bought into play to maintain a steady 4/5 knots  of speed on what was basically a close hauled beat up the Barrow channel. The Simrad autopilot’s self tacking mode made easy going of it at a time when there was no room for error given the fact that the hidden Sel-dom-Se-en reef was just off the starboard marker.  The self-tacking goes like this: with the Sel-dom-Se-en green marker quickly approaching at about fifty yards to port, you press the  autopilot’s  red ‘tack’ button and immediately press the right arrow button. the Autopilot starts to bleep loudly. The crew then must quickly prepare for the tack, loading the  winches and untangling sheets etc. Suddenly the beeping turns into a long continuous bleep and the tiller is automatically pushed hard over to the lee. Next the crew must release the sheets to port, awaits the bow to pass the eye of the wind, and then sheet in to starboard. By the time one finds the time to look up, the tiller has centred itself, and the boat is heading on the next tack – in this case towards the lighthouse on Walney Island.
Still a little behind, ‘Raindance’ was slowly catching up. She’s a much longer boat than ‘Jamila’ and the extra waterline length demonstrated the extra displacement speed she had available. By the time the castle was becoming a small feature in the distance, she was right up behind, both crew members were beaming a broad smile from behind the large spray hood. In a last ditch attempt to stay in the lead ‘Jamila’ released the full extent of her large Jenoa in the hope of scraping a few extra fractions of a knot, but nothing could stop the approaching ‘Raindance’. Very soon she was sailing along side, with her bows crashing deeply into the on coming chop.

 

Once the two two boats were side by side, cameras were pulled out from their protective pouches and pictures taken. Above are example taken from both boats. ‘Raindance’ pulled ahead and both boats entered the choppy waters of mid Morecambe Bay. The wind was favourable and provided sufficient speed over water to beat the flood tide, which at this point was pouring into the said bay at a rate of two knots. Time seemed to go fast at this stage. Soon the remnants of the Fleetwood Tower, marking the start of the channel-approaches hove into view. Both boats passed the Fairway north cardinal buoy and joined forces with the tide reaching speeds over-ground close to 7/8 knots, up the channel into Feetwood. At this point the boats parted company. ‘Raindance’ made for the marina at Fleetwood and ‘Jamila’ made a solitary trip up the River Wyre, under sail all the way, and was soon safely back at her mooring.

That’s all folks, the end of another great sail by three Wardley’s Marine Yacht Club members.

Crane in Day, April 2018

Everyone was too busy to be taking photographs, but still we managed to take some, so ‘VOILA’ a new post that attempts to do the best with a rather sparse bunch  🙂

Above all, however, we must thank our craning-in crews, our club house caterers, and a particularly big thank to our Banks man ‘Mike Morris’ for all their hard work.

A big crane arrives on a windy Tuesday morning and sets up just a few yards off Jamila’s starboard bow. At this point members awaited with abated breath as to whether it would all go ahead.
Members chat amongst themselves whilst Wardley’s ‘Banksman’ Mike Morris engages in a serious discussion with the crane driver.  High above twenty knots of wind is registering on Jamila’s anemometer.
Finally a decision is taken and the crane’s bright red jib elevated itself high into the Blackpool sky, dwarfing the surrounding masts. Next, a large hook silently descended to a point just forward of the driver’s cab, as seen in the photograph, and a set of  hardened steel lifting chains were hauled out. GAME ON!
Wardley’s crane-in crews organize into gangs of four men,  and surround the first boat to lift. Each man must attach one of the four lifting chain hooks to its designated strop.
Four crew members clamber aboard Jamila. The two seen in the photograph are to the aft awaiting their respective lifting hook to arrive.
First boat is Jamila.
John Gorse stood on the port bow of ‘Jamila’ diligently awaits a ‘soon to descend ‘ steel hook.
And finally away goes the first boat of the day across the yard, keeping low to the ground because of the wind,  and onward into a safe location in  mud berth one. She will then be ‘waiting for the tide‘ that is due in a couple of hours.
And a little later on, away goes ‘January Six’! The first four boats are placed directly on to the floor of an empty creek and must await  the flood tide. Once floating they will be moved to nearby jetties or to  mooring out on the river. The  rest of the boats can then be craned straight into the water.
This photo DOES NOT tell the tale, but throughout the day,  tea, coffee and bacon & sausage sandwiches were provided by three wonderful ladies (including our vice commodore Lynda Mathews). Thanks for your most welcome contribution!. This particular image was taken very late in the day when John Gorse kindly provided toasted tea cakes to any lingering Wardley’s yachtsmen. This photo only shows a fraction of those served up.

Video thanks to Darren Griffiths.

Wardley’s crane-in day, Tues 17th April, fast approaching.

From the left: Tom, John, Nick, Richard and Andy. All working hard in a yard where tea is always in plentiful supply.
Nick, John and Simon out on the river checking mooring tackle. It was grey and overcast, but amazingly quiet. The only sounds were those of the shoreline waders, woodland birds and the odd squadrons of Oyster Catchers flying past.

 

Not all the mooring chains inspected passed muster.
This mooring chain looked quite good! Encouraging!

 

Some good work has been done fixing-up decaying jetties. (Well done Norman). However, there’s much work to do else where.

 

Wardleys’ boats are getting their bottoms scraped and anti-fouled. Its hard physical and messy work. Notice all the barnacle-scrapings carpeting the gravel.

 

Wardleys sailors have found time to get in a few ‘2018’ warm-up sails. This is Richard at the helm of Sailfish 18 ‘Peter-Duck’ somewhere between Skipool and Wardleys Creek.

 

Another photo of a ‘2018’  day-sail on the river. Believe it or not, this photo of Wardley’s Creek was taken on the 4th February. Darren and Simon ventured out on Sailfish 18 ‘Peter-Duck’. They weren’t the only yachts out and about. There was a good showing from the Blackpool and Fleetwood sailing club, battling to be the first over the line

 

A back of an envelope sketch of a scary moment last year. (See the Three Men in Two Boats video clip from 2017). Its looking north up the Wyre with Knott-End on the right. Norman Ingram’s Sika (Golden Hind) came along side ‘Lueth’ (Manta 19) that was anchored awaiting the flood tide. However, the extra weight of ‘Sika’, all 5 tons, was too much for Lueth’s anchor. Both boats were caught by the tide and whipped backwards at 5 knots onto a sandbank. ‘Sika’ lurched over at 45 degrees showing a keel embedded in the mud. She stopped dead. The flood tide surged around Sika’s hull in a maelstom of foam and broken water. With John Gorse fighting with the rudder, Norman ‘Ace’ Ingram traversed the heaving deck up to the pulpit and put out his biggest and heaviest anchor. Amazingly it held firm! In half an hour the rising water re floated ‘Sika’ and all lived happily ever after.

 

An impressive boat has appeared in mud berth number 6. This is Vic Mathew’s new motor sailor. There’s plenty of work to do to get her ready for Morecambe Bay. Vic reckons she won’t be ready for her first sea trials until the start of the next season.

An excellent short film about two Sailors. It’s a must watch!

This film was shot a long way from our beloved Waldleys Marine Yacht Club. But since there’s not much going in the the bleak-mid-winter on the River Wyre, I recommend you watch this. I am hoping to move and  enthuse you to draw up those passage plans, hoist those sails, and  live out those dreams – and all before that blasted clock runs down.

It’s BBC quality!

Watch preferably on a good sized monitor or smart TV.

Revisiting the Dubhs Ridge from Howard Steen on Vimeo.

Odd and Sods photos Nov 2017

Just a few photos taken during the 2017 season. If you are a member and have any photos to share on the site, please send them in to “fallbarn@gmail.com” with a short narrative.

Tom in the bow of Malcolm’s dinghy. Taken shortly after successfully retrieving an anchor that had been buoyed in the main channel. It was cut loose due to some serious anchor dragging/snagging when Jamila was caught out in a half gale coming back from Piel. The anchor was finally deposited on the main jetty in Knott End and shortly after put in the back of a car. The photo was taken a hour or so after high water at the point when the motor-boaters were packing up and going home.

 

Tom securing Malcolm’s dinghy after the successful execution of Operation ‘Retrieve Jamila’s Anchor’. Propulsion was supplied by a  circa 1972 British Seagull Forty Plus. Fresh fuel was correctly mixed at 25:1. The ancient Villiers carburettor was well tickled.  This famous piece of British Maritime folk-law started on the third pull. Its unique musical note carried to the port of Fleetwood  bringing smiles from the retired fisherman.
Off loading the anchor on the Knott End slipway. This is where the Knott End ferry operates a service across the river mouth to Fleetwood. But beware when launching on this slipway. The eagle eye of the ferry skipper will lock-on and before you can slip your moorings, you’ll find your self  £7  lighter – receipt provided.  Still, once off and away you’ll find tidal steams that  surge in and out up to five knots. Use them correctly and there won’t be a lot of paddling to do! Get it wrong on the other hand, … !
A more modern dinghy. A bit small in this configuration to rescue a heavy buoyed anchor like described above. However, with its optional inflatable tubes that attach around the gunwale it turns into a quasi RIB for all intents and purposes. Thus safe and pretty much unsinkable.
William’s ‘Otter’, stood awaiting the next tide. This Wardley’s yacht that has spent more time on the river in recent years than any other. She’s a good little boat for the Wyre estuary and Morecambe Bay. She takes the ground well as can be seen. She also has a trailer on which the skipper can take her home for winter maintenance.

 

John G’s ‘Westerley 25′ family cruiser. A triple keeler tailor-made, one could argue, for Morecambe Bay. In many way’s you could consider it a 23’ boat with a two foot extension designed to house a decent sized outboard motor. It had a diesel inboard when John first bought it, though not any more! The engine room is now a useful place to stow the extra kit that once invaded the main cabin. Instead of the once oily inboard there is a clean and quiet ten horse Yamaha securely fastened to the original  transom bracket put there by the builders.

 

On a cruise across to Piel this little critter landed on the boom. I guess its tired little wings needed a rest. Surprisingly it didn’t seem at all concerned about the Skipper sat only a few feet away. It simply sat there and enjoyed the ride. Eventually it flew up and away and continued on its journey.
When sailing to Piel, ever thought about forgoing the Ship Inn’s excellent hospitality and just sail on up to Barrow? Or perhaps you just want to, out of curiosity, see just how far you can go?  Well this is it – the bridge over to Walney Island! Here you are out of the dredged sections used by the commercial boats , and where your depth sounder’s low alarm will begin to trigger. Time to crank up the plate if your are a lifting-keeler! On the other side, if you can get your mast down, you’ll be off on your way to Haverig and other delightful South West Lakeland destinations.

 

One of the outer lateral markers coming into the Barrow channel. Captured on the last day in September. Visibility had been poor, bordering on fog for most the the way over. At around 16:30h the sun suddenly made a spectacular appearance as you can see above. Normally, the whole background would be awash with wind generators. Not today though. Only these few falling within the sun’s globe could be seen. An eerie but unforgettable sight.

 

Yes, you’re right, no where near Morecambe Bay. However needs-must and work took this Wardley’s member over to the great city of Leeds. Lucky me ,I stayed in a hotel situated on ‘Leeds Dock’. Here was my ride into the city centre. Mixing work with pleasure one could say!
Pic 1. Low water ———— (see caption below)
Pic 2. High water. ——- Not many Yachtsmen in the world need to cope with 10 meter (33′) tides. At Wardleys we flip between the two scenes twice a day. The transformation is quite amazing, and  goodness knows we are amazing for putting up with them.

 

Wind over tide on Morecambe Bay. The disturbed waters can create an intriguing effect when the sun is low in the sky. Tacking into such seas with the wind on the nose is tiring in a small yacht. In the other direction, however, with wind on the beam it can be quite thrilling.

 

Darren on Wardleys Yacht ‘Thunderball’, sailing off on another adventure.